Eight years sounds like a long time—especially for someone like me who just wants to get out there and start serving people! But the eight years it has taken me to arrive at Ordination Day on June 1 were worth every minute. I can honestly say I learned a thing or two.
First, I had to grow. I had to understand that I wasn’t a perfectly formed human being—despite what my parents told me! And I had to focus on what formation means when you are called to the priesthood. Formation involves praying more deeply and truly understanding the Society Oath as well as the promises of chastity, obedience, and loyalty to our leadership and to our apostolic life. A little humility, I found, goes a long way.
Second, I had to become a student again and recommit myself to classroom learning. I loved my studies in philosophy and theology. But honestly, the deepest learning happened during my overseas training in Tanzania. That’s where I lived among the people, and where I found Christ in every person I was privileged to serve. I learned how to meet needs and expectations. And I began to understand the blessing of my vocation as a teacher and shepherd: I was being called to give witness to Christ’s message of salvation.
Finally, I had to spend time in reflection—something I did before joining Maryknoll but now I wanted to walk with Our Lord each step of the way and be the best messenger I could for God’s healing grace. That, I learned, requires concentrated prayer.
“… the deepest learning happened during my overseas training in Tanzania. That’s where I lived among the people, and where I found Christ in every person I was privileged to serve.”
Everyone’s calling to the priesthood or religious life is different. But as with other men I know, mine had the thumbprint of the Holy Spirit all over it. There were signs.
I was born Baptist to a religious family. While in college, I spent time in overseas mission. I helped build a hospital in Honduras, I worked with refugees in Rome, and I taught Bible school in the Philippines. These experiences opened my eyes—and eventually my heart—to other faiths.
A chance meeting with a Maryknoll priest in my home parish connected me to a whole new world. Eventually, I received an invitation to “come and see” and never turned back. God was calling me to mission as a Maryknoll priest.
I entered Maryknoll in 2010, thrilled—and grateful—for my calling. The day of my ordination to the diaconate was profound.
I felt the presence of the Body of Christ and the Communion of Saints all around me. Now I am about to be ordained a Maryknoll priest.
Thank you for being my spiritual partner in this journey of a lifetime. With your blessing, I believe I am ready to serve God and our Church. I begin my priesthood with this humble prayer: Dear Lord, may I always continue to grow in Your love. Amen.
~ Father Jonathan Hill, M.M.